While Brooklyn is touted as the new Manhattan, East New York fights for renewal

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(PIX11) — From the political parties of Park Slope politicians to the chants and cheers of sports fans and concert goers at Barclays Center: the buzz around Brooklyn has never been louder than it is right now

Lost in the murmur is a neighborhood that sits on the other side of the borough.

“We’re the furthest point from downtown Manhattan or from Wall Street.”

Better known for bullets and blight, rather than brownstones and bridges, East New York is struggling to rebuild a reputation that’s been torn apart in the headlines.

Bill Wilkins, with the Local Development Corporation of East New York, is one of the people trying to turn that image around. While most people see empty lots on corners throughout the neighborhood, Wilkins sees potential.

“When I look out there I see a field of dreams, I see immense possibilities.”

Wilkin sees possibilities that include art spaces, community resource centers, and economic revitalization for an at risk community.

“One thing that we have, that other communities don’t have, is land … the potential for those empty lots scattered around East New York can best be seen here at the Gateway Elton where they’ve developed hundreds of units of affordable housing with responsible design and a clear vision,” Wilkins says. “If money is spent with local companies in the buildings trade, who then employ people locally, then it starts to create this exciting groundswell of economic opportunity.”

But to spur that development, Wilkins says the community needs support from politicians.
He says if leaders don’t address the violence and poverty that plague East New York, the problems will spill over into other neighborhoods.

“There’s a moral obligation there’s also, I think, a spiritual obligation for all of Brooklyn to do well,” to get those politicians to pay attention, he says people need to get involved.

“As a community we have to be mindful where we get out the vote.”

In the meantime, Wilkins says it’s important to spread the word about positive development, access to transportation, and diversity that’s already in place.

“There has to be communication where resources and opportunities are articulated throughout the community.  There also has to be a willingness of media, print media and electronic media, to really delve into some of the stories that take place and find out that this community is still vibrant.”

And to make sure it stays that way, Wilkins says new developers can’t forget the families that weathered the storm through the neighborhoods tough times.

1 Comment

  • Ian

    As a East New York resident and member of St. Paul community Baptist Church I have watched the slow growth of East New York thru the Nemehiah Homes Project, ManUp Inc and now ArtsEast New York. I usually joke with people and say the people are coming down the hill fsdt from Williamsburg and Bushwick (Bushwick Avenue is literally a hill that leads into East New York along Jamaica Avenue into Pennsylvania Avenue. I guess there is truth to every joke huh?

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